Belfair Plantation - An enduring legacy built upon a pair of Tom Fazio classics

First impressions are everything, and no golf community in the South Carolina Lowcountry makes one like Belfair Plantation. Driving through the gates of this exclusive residential community, members and visitors are welcomed by the most beautiful drive through a canopy of live oaks that has been mentioned among the most spectacular drives in the south.

It’s an appropriate entry way to an elegant living experience that combines the passion of golf, the love of nature and the sense of community and camaraderie into one amazing lifestyle that exemplifi es life in this southern region.

Built from what was once a southern plantation, Belfair opened in the mid-1990s and today features two world-class courses built by the hands of one of the world’s most respected course designers. With 36 holes bearing his name, Tom Fazio crafted layouts that blend seamlessly with the natural surroundings. While the courses feature similar traits, they both offer unique routing and challenges that provide unique character and experiences.

The East and West courses at Belfair are the center of a community that immediately raised the bar for private living the minute it opened and continues to today. In addition to the Fazio 36, Belfair is home to a world-class Fitness and Sports Center, multiple tennis courts, an Olympic-sized pool facility and a relaxing system of lagoons and lakes that provide great fishing and other wildlife-related activities.

Bottom line, at Belfair, life is about getting out and getting active, and residents of this beautiful southern plantation do both like none other in the Lowcountry. That said, it’s the two Fazio courses that headline life and pursuits at Belfair Plantation.

Each year, Belfair plays host to the prestigious Players Amateur, which is staged by the Heritage Foundation, the organization that operates The Heritage, Hilton Head’s PGA Tour event played each April at Harbour Town Golf Links. Each year, the winner of the Players Amateur earns a special invitation into The Heritage field, and the list of past champions includes the likes of Ben Curtis, Lucas Glover, Camillo Villegas and Matt Kuchar.

The plantation is also home to the Jim Ferree Learning Center, a 29-acre practice facility fully-equipped with large hitting areas, putting and chipping greens, practice bunkers and a variety of target fairways and greens. In addition, the facility hosts an 1,800-square-foot indoor hitting facility that also includes a video library and refreshment center.

Belfair Plantation - An enduring legacy built upon a pair of Tom Fazio classicsBuilt just years apart, both the East and West courses are golf the way it’s supposed to be – challenging, fair and secluded. The East Course, the newer of the two, is abouth as close one can come to a classic links layout in the Lowcountry. The course features wide, windswept fairways, strategic bunkering and waste areas and contour changes that provide both a strategic and visual element that enhances the experience.

Another aspect to the East Course (and the West for that matter) that shouldn’t be understated is the unique separation of golf holes that makes each of the 18 holes a distinct and unique experience unto themselves.

After a scenic but relatively tranquil start, the East Course shows its teeth with the challenging par-5 third hole. A dogleg left around a cluster of bunkers, accuracy trumps distance on this 536-yard hole. Whether going for the green in two or playing conservative with a third shot, a false front must be negotiated on the approach and deep bunkers guarding the left and right of the green should be avoided if birdie or par is in the cards.

The highlight of the front nine comes with the classic risk/reward par-4 fifth hole. A mere 330 yards from the back tees, golfers must make a decision whether to take on a huge lake separating the tee and the green on the left or to play it safe into the fairway. Long hitters will attempt to hit the green from the tee while medium length players should go for the safe play. Either way, this hole can produce birdies just as easily as it can double bogeys.

The inward nine on the East Course gets off to a strong start out the gate with the daunting 604-yard dogleg left par-5 10th. A stunning hole, the 10th takes a sharp turn around a cluster of bunkers and water on the left to a green that sits well below the fairway. A strong drive could tease long hitters to challenge the bunkers and water to hit the green in two, but the smart play is a layup and a 100-yard approach to the green that is deep from front to back.

The East Course certainly offers a strong collection of par 3s and none is better or more visually appealing than the 14th hole. Surrounded by beautiful wetlands, the 189-yard par-3 requires an accurate approach to a relatively large green that is guarded by a waste area left, a bunker to the right and, of course, vast marshland behind. No matter how many times members play the hole, it’s an enduring memory to the beauty and challenge of the East Course.

Given they share the same designer and beautiful topography; it isn’t surprising that the West Course, the elder of the two layouts, is every bit the equal of its sister course in regard to beauty, challenge and playability. A more traditional parkland design, the West Course features beautiful live oaks, native grasses and multiple lagoons that provide both challenge and character to the 7,080- yard layout. Like the East Course, the West features an abundance of strategically-placed bunkers along rolling fairways and signifi cantly undulating greens.

Like the East Course, the West gets going with an early par-5 that will impress from the tee box all the way through the green. A daunting 593-yards from the tips, the second hole features a vast waste area down the left side that is in play both off the tee and with the second shot. A true threeshot par-5, the approach must navigate a dogleg left turn around a lake and large bunker to a relatively tucked and small green.

It seems with every design, Fazio has a knack for including a relatively short par-4 that features traits that make it truly unique. Such is the case with the par-4 sixth hole, which actually features two greens that are put in play interchangeably by the club. The green on the left of the 367-yard hole is the larger and more accessible while a smaller green to the right brings more trouble into play, including a lagoon to the right of the surface.

Like the front nine, the inward nine is highlighted by a par-5, the reachable 537-yard 12th hole. Also a dogleg left, this hole will challenge long-hitters to cut the corner and take on a large bunker to the left-front of the green to get home in two. More conservative players will stay right with their second shot to set up a short iron into a green that is also protected by three small bunkers on the right side.

Saving the best for last, perhaps the most visually stunning hole at Belfair Plantation is undoubtedly the 448-yard par-4 18th hole. The entire length of the hole wraps around a vast wetland to the left and trees to the right that place signifi cant importance on accuracy off the tee. A long approach waits to a green guarded by marsh on the left and bunkers to the right. Given the amazing nature of this course, it’s the perfect finishing hole to be sure.

Amazing Fazio golf twice over, terrific practice facilities, luxurious amenities and a secluded natural environment; these are the aspects of Belfair living that makes this plantation so special. It’s obvious the minute you enter the community and it’s evident every day one spends there after arrival.

 

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